Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Its a wrap: Kings(ton) Cross

Over the last couple weeks in Ottawa it has really felt like winter has descended. Freezing rain, snow, ice on the roads; it hasn't been pretty. A feeling of closure has been looming, laying in wait to flourish and manifest in the articulation of two simple words: Its over.

Conor O'Brien pulls ahead of me in the uphill sprint finish, during the final seconds of our 2010 race season. This is what I look like at 100% effort. Chapeau to Conor for a coming around (photo: Ian Austen)
As the wind blew away my motivation of get out, or rather stay out, Saturday afternoon and put in a one or two hour ride, the more moderate climes of Kingston beckoned me. With a projected high of +4, driving two hours to race for one in Kingston never sounded more appealing. Minimal preparation was required after a merely dusty race in Renfrew the previous weekend, so I was to bed at the monkish hour of 10pm, ready for the final throwdown of 2010.

Sunday morning started yet better than hoped. At 8am it was already +2 in Kingston; excellent. The winter shoes might stay in the bag. After a smooth trip under two hours, David, Jamie, and I rolled into the parking lot to find Rodd, Todd, and Rob getting ready to roll, and Mike and Andy still on course. Warm up revealed summer weight gloves and no hats were required...the joy! It was time to rock out.

Starting on a stretch of gravel road, the field was off like a bunch of burnt monkeys. I wasn't particularly keen to put a tonne of effort into getting right up front (i.e., I wasn't able to go any faster); my plan was to hang with the lead five as long as I could in hopes of making some time on my rivals. Coming into the race, I knew I HAD to win in order to have any hope of pulling off the series overall win. However, since Duncan showed up, mathematically, he'd have to get one point or less in order for me to take the overall, and that was IFF (if and only if) I won. So there was some pressure, but at the same time, all I could do was focus on what I could control: win. Jamie was also aiming for a spot in the top ten overall, and Rodd and Rob had were right up on top in the points too. What would happen? This was going to be fun!

Rodd climbs teh tanning terraces. I'm told more of these are going in for erosion control; Kingston could get even better! (Photo: Ian Austen)

Rob leads Marc Lapointe up the hill. (Photo: Ian Austen)

Tall Tree Sandwich. David follows... (Photo: Ian Austen)
...with Jamie, then Todd, in tow. (Photo: Ian Austen)

Todd chases Jamie around the building. (Photo: Ian Austen)

After spending the first couple laps, if that, chasing the lead group of five or so, I settled in with Marcel Vautour and Conor O'Brien. Marcel was driving a very strong pace, and I was doing my best to hang on despite feeling pretty horrible. We opened a bit of a gap on Conor, then, heading into the series of three steps I had the brialliant idea to ride them. I came to my senses as I got within a couple feet, but all I could do at that point was make a panic stop, akwardly dismount, drop my chain somehow on the remount, and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Racing can make one temporarily stupid (or permanently...). Conor caught up, commented on my 'interesting' move, and on we rode.

From there on in the race was straight up fun. We were able to ride tempo, as there was enough of a gap not to have to worry. Duncan and Simon Smith had been chasing hard earlier, and getting very close, but both faded back so the pressure was off. Duncan pulled a muscle over a set og barriers, and Simon's crank arm almost fell off. Marcel had rough luck too, flatting while he was chasing down the 4th spot.

Heading into the final lap, Conor and I turned up the pace, and he made his move as we rolled into the uphill switchbacks. I followed close enough to manage to pass on the inside of the final turn onto the gravel at the bottom of the hill, then it was a straight, right turn, uphill finish. Full gas, turn, sprint, change gears, sprint harder. At 100% effort, Conor came up my right side and there was nothing I could do. He had it, awesome sprint! We were both cooked enough to crash each other out on the grass as we fist bumped, classic. Terrific way to cap the season. Duncan's finish well into the points ensured his series victory, capping a very strong cross season for him. Congrats Duncan, well done!

Rodd rolled in next for 2nd spot in the Master's group, followed by Duncan, Simon, Jamie, David and Todd; five Tall Tree riders in the top ten, super! Everyone raced about the course, as it blended a myriad of features from steep climbs to shallower ones, sweeping turns and tight ones, fast descents and slow ones, fast straights and a variety of run-ups. one couldn't call it a power rider's course, or a technical rider's course; it was an all-rounder's course. And it was downright fun.

Rob and I chat apres race. Notice Rob's seatpost? A botched remount snapped the head off; Rob was not unscathed. Rob was on track to take the second overall position, but Lady Luck had other designs. (Photo: Ian Austen)

Thanks to everyone who helped set up, not least, the organizing crew - and lets acknowledge Timothy Austen, 15 years old - who got up extra early every week and stayed late to create and tear down the courses, making this whole racing thing possible for the rest of us. Your efforts are very much appreciated. Next year the Tall Tree crew will come out to set up at least twice, I promise.



smivies said...

Next year Matt! I was looking forward to duking it out with you on Sunday. It would have been a close race but unfortunately all I got out of it was a lot of razzing for being my own mechanic. Have a good winter!

Matt Surch said...

Indeed Simon, next year will be exciting. It was obvious you were riding fast on Sunday, and I was quite concerned about holding you off. Sorry to see a mechanical get in the way of a good battle. Perhaps we'll see you at the Roubaix in April.

rob.parniak said...

Love the final sprint photo with Matt and Conor. If I were the photographer I'd title it "Dueling Moustaches". Teenage lip fuzz vs. grizzled truck driver. Wicked!

Andy said...

Yes, its a sick pic... I love how the Steelwool head badge is clearly visible. Also, they're wearing the same helment.

Madmountainmike said...

Awesome photo ! Congrats dude (but what were you thinking to ride the stairs??) : - )

See ya sunday

jay2179 said...

huh. looks to me like young Conor is throwing an elbow, trying to psyche out the old geezer.

Matt Surch said...

As I saw him coming up my side in the corner of my eye I was tempted to veer as you would going into a corner. Then I remembered we were sprinting and that would be decidedly not cool. If you look hard you can see my left elbow is out the same way, except I'm in the drop, so there's less of a bend. Conor is on the hoods, so as his head drops his elbow comes out more. No psyching was necessary, he had it.